By Callum Dent at Trent Bridge
Steven Finn believes momentum has swung slightly in England’s favour despite the hosts being bowled out for just 215 on an enthralling opening day of the first Investec Test at Trent Bridge.
Skipper Alastair Cook had no hesitation in opting to make first use of a dry and even surface, but his decision looked to have backfired as Peter Siddle returned impressive figures of 5-50.
However, England responded in emphatic fashion thanks to two wickets apiece from Finn, who came mightily close to snaring a brilliant hat-trick, and James Anderson that restricted Australia to 75 for four at the close.
With the tourists still 140 runs behind, Middlesex seamer Finn feels England may have the upper hand.
“I think it’s pretty even at the minute. We may have our noses ahead, but it is a very tight battle,” Finn said.
“To be bowled out for 215 after winning the toss was something we had hoped wouldn’t happen. But we are in that position now and to have them four down was a good result in the end.
“The first hour tomorrow is going to be very important in the way we set the tone as bowlers and attack the Australians. A few wickets in that first hour will put us in front.”
Australia’s pace attack struggled to utilise the early morning cloud cover Nottingham had to offer but, once they found their rhythm, ultimately needed just 59 overs to take 10 wickets.
Finn, who opened the bowling in the absence of Stuart Broad, admitted England took heart from their opponents’ ability to swing the ball, saying: “The overcast conditions helped a little bit.
“Having won the toss and batted first, we would have liked a few more runs on the board. But, with the nature of Ashes cricket, it was going to be eventful and we knew that.
“Even though we were bowled out how we were, having the 20 overs this evening helped our cause. Knowing the ball had moved around all day and that the Australians had kept the ball swinging worked to our advantage, especially with James Anderson in the team.
“We knew if we could keep it moving, if we came out and attacked off stump and brought the batsmen forward, we would get our rewards in the end. The wicket is quite good, there are no real demons in the wicket yet.
“The cloud cover and having the lights on towards the end of the day did assist the bowlers. We wanted to go out there and be as disciplined as we could.”
After dismissing Shane Watson and Ed Cowan with successive deliveries, Finn delivered an unplayable hat-trick ball to Michael Clarke, who almost edged behind.
Anderson later cleaned up the Australia captain with a wonder ball that seamed away to brush off stump, leaving Finn to heap praise on the Lancastrian.
“We have seen him do that a few times with magic balls,” Finn added.
“It is testament to the amount of work he puts in and how much he tries to keep developing his skills that he can do things like that. It’s great when things like that come off in a game and to get the Australian captain with a ball like that was exceptional for us. Hopefully he can do it a few more times.”
New Australia coach Darren Lehmann hailed the performance of Siddle.
He said: “I think we needed that experienced head in the end. The younger guys probably got a bit over-excited with the new ball; they understand that. Peter stood up when it counted and led the attack as we expected and got some crucial wickets. I’m really pleased for him.”
When asked about the balance of power, Lehmann added: “It’s pretty even stevens, isn’t it? Tomorrow is going to be a pretty big day.
“We have to bat well tomorrow; we know that. I thought they bowled really well tonight, probably better than we bowled with the new ball, but that is something we can improve.
“We bowled them out for 215, which was outstanding in the end. We have to bat well tomorrow and make a lot of runs.”